In certain areas of England there was an expression that if a dark moon came on Christmas, a fine harvest year would follow. Other areas declared that a waxing or new moon on Christmas portended a good year, but a waning moon a hard year.
From: Moon Magick
The Mourning Moon is upon us. As the days grow shorter and the sun’s life-giving fires are banked, sometimes it seems so dark we feel the light will never return. This moon, however, is a reminder that death is just a part of the endless cycle of life, death, and rebirth.
It’s also known as the Fog Moon or Snow Moon, depending on where you live. Some Native American tribes referred to it simply as The Moon When Deer Shed Antlers (although in most regions it’s more accurate to say they’re shedding their velvet – a buck doesn’t usually lose antlers until later in the winter, unless you’re very far north).
- Colors: Gray, blues
- Gemstones: Lapis lazuli, turquoise, topaz
- Trees: Cypress, alder, hazel
- Gods: Bastet, Isis, Kali, Hecate, Astarte
- Herbs: Thistle, betony, verbena, fennel
- Element: Water
In the early Celtic society, November was the beginning of the new year, and so it makes sense to use the magic of this moon phase to celebrate new beginnings.
This is a time of washing away the baggage of the past and letting it go. Once you’ve done that, you’ll be able to focus on the joys of the future. During the Mourning Moon phase, say goodbye to bad habits and toxic relationships, and get a fresh start for the new year. Work on developing and strengthening your connection with Spirit.
The Dark of the Moon, those few days where the moon is not visible, just prior to the rebirth of the New Moon, are controversial. Some traditions will not cast spells during this period. Others. particularly those devoted to Dark Moon spirits like Hekate or Lilith, consider this a period of profound magickal power which may be exploited as needed.
In Arabic folk custom, it’s recommended that you keep an eye on moon phases. Whatever you find yourself doing at the moment when you first catch a glimpse of the brand new moon is the right thing for you to do.
More New Moon Lore:
- Almost every culture believed that if the New Moon came on Monday (Moon-day) it was a sign of good weather and good luck.
- Two new moons in one month were said to predict a month’s bad weather.
- Any new moon on a Saturday or Sunday was said to predict rain and general bad luck.
- Good luck will come your way if you first see the New Moon outside and over your right shoulder. You can also make a wish that will be granted. The best luck came from looking at the Moon straight on.
- In some parts of Ireland, upon seeing the New Moon, people bowed or knelt, saying: O Moon, leave us as well as you found us.
- Upon seeing the New Moon, bow to her and turn over the silver or coins in your pocket. This will bring you luck in all your affairs.
- If the New Moon is seen for the first time straight ahead, it predicts good fortune until the next New Moon.
- To encourage luxuriant growth, cut your hair on the New Moon.
- Wood cut at the New Moon is hard to split.
- The English had a saying that if a member of the family died at the time of the New Moon, three deaths would follow.
- Although the Koran expressly forbids worshiping the Sun or Moon, many Muslims still clasp their hands at the sight of a New Moon and offer a prayer.
From: Moon Magick and other sources
Traditionally, the each of the first ten days after the New Moon has it’s own attributes and qualities. Here’s the folklore on each of those days:
First Day: A good day for new beginnings. To fall ill on this day means the illness might last a long while. A child born at this time will be happy, prosperous, and live long.
Second Day: A good day for buying and selling and for starting a sea voyage. Also a good time for hoeing and sowing.
Third Day: Crimes committed on this day are certain to be found out.
Fourth Day: A good day for building, construction, and home renovations. Also a good day to be born on if you want to enter politics.
Fifth Day: The weather on this day gives an indication of what to expect for the rest of the month. It’s a good day for a woman to conceive.
Sixth Day: The best day for hunting and/or fishing.
Seventh Day: A good day for meeting and falling in love.
Eighth Day: A sickness begun on this day was thought to be likely to cause death.
Ninth Day: If the Moon shines in your face on this day, you may have twisted features or go mad.
Tenth: People born on this day are likely to be travelers or have a restless spirit.
Other Days: A New Moon on a Saturday or Sunday indicates rain, as does seeing the outline of the whole Moon at the same time as a New Moon. Furthermore, should the horns of a New Moon point upwards then the weather will be fair for the next lunar cycle, but if they point down, you can expect rain.
The Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival, is a popular East Asian celebration of abundance and togetherness, dating back over 3,000 years to China’s Zhou Dynasty. In Malaysia and Singapore, it is also sometimes referred to as the Lantern Festival or “Mooncake Festival.”
The Mid-Autumn Festival falls on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month of the Chinese calendar (usually around mid- or late-September in the Gregorian calendar), a date that parallels the Autumn Equinox of the solar calendar. The moon festival is celebrated on the full moon closest to the Autumn Equinox, which sometimes falls in October. This is the ideal time, when the moon is at its fullest and brightest, to celebrate the abundance of the summer’s harvest. The traditional food of this festival is the mooncake, of which there are many different varieties.
The Moon Festival is full of legendary stories. Legend says that Chang Er flew to the moon, where she has lived ever since. You might see her dancing on the moon during the Moon Festival. The Moon Festival is also an occasion for family reunions. When the full moon rises, families get together to watch the full moon, eat moon cakes, and sing moon poems. With the full moon, the legend, the family and the poems, you can’t help thinking that this is really a perfect world. That is why the Chinese are so fond of the Moon Festival.
The Moon Festival is also a romantic one. A perfect night for the festival is if it is a quiet night without a silk of cloud and with a little mild breeze from the sea. Lovers spend such a romatic night together tasting the delicious moon cake with some wine while watching the full moon. Even for a couple who can’t be together, they can still enjoy the night by watching the moon at the same time so it seems that they are together at that hour. A great number of poetry has been devoted to this romantic festival. Hope the Moon Festival will bring you happiness.
Farmers celebrate the end of the summer harvesting season on this date. Traditionally, on this day, Chinese family members and friends will gather to admire the bright mid-autumn harvest moon, and eat moon cakes and pomeloes together. Accompanying the celebration, there are additional cultural or regional customs, such as:
- Eating moon cakes outside under the moon
- Putting pomelo rinds on one’s head
- Carrying brightly lit lanterns
- Burning incense in reverence to deities including Chang’e
- Planting Mid-Autumn trees
- Collecting dandelion leaves and distributing them evenly among family members
- Lighting lanterns on towers
- Fire Dragon Dances
- Shops selling mooncakes, before the festival, often display pictures of Chang’e floating to the moon.
Stories behind the festival can be found at Widdershins:
The Moon Cake Uprising
In late Yuan Dynasty (1271 – 1368 AD), people in many parts of the country could not bear the cruel rule of the government and rose in revolt. Zhu Yuanzhang, founder of Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644 AD), united the different resistance forces and wanted to organize an uprising. However, due to the narrow search by government, it was very difficult to pass messages.
The counselor Liu Bowen later though out the great idea of hiding notes with “uprise on the night of August 15th” in moon cakes and had them sent to different resistance forces. The uprising turned to be very successful and Zhu was so happy that he awarded his subjects with moon cakes on the following Mid-Autumn Festival. Since then, eating moon cakes has been a custom on Mid-Autumn Festival.
What follows is a list (in alphabetical order) of the names given to the October moon. Also listed is the tradition and/or origin of that moon name:
- Blood Moon ~Mediaeval English, Neo-Pagan
- Blood Moon Falling ~Janic (full)
- Corn Ripe Moon ~Taos
- Falling Leaves Moon ~Arapaho
- Full Dying Grass Moon ~Algonquin Native American, Colonial
- Harvest Moon ~When closest to the Autumnal Equinox
- Hunter’s Moon ~Neo-Pagan, Algonquin, Native American, Colonial
- Kentenha ~Mohawk
- Leaf Moon ~Janic (dark)
- Leaf Fall Moon ~San Juan, Native American
- Long Hair Moon ~Hopi
- Moon of the Changing Season ~other
- Shedding Moon ~other
- Snow Moon ~other
- Spirit Moon ~other
- Ten Colds Moon ~Kiowa
- Travel Moon ~Algonquin, Native American, Colonial
- Tugluvik ~Inuit
- Vintage Moon ~other
- White Frost Moon ~other
- Windermanoth ~other
- Wine Moon ~Mediaeval English
- Winterfelleth Moon ~other
- Winter’s Coming Moon ~other
The Hunter’s Moon is so named because plenty of moonlight is ideal for hunters shooting migrating birds in Northern Europe. The name is also said to have been used by Native Americans as they tracked and killed their prey by autumn moonlight, stockpiling food for the winter ahead.
Traditional association with feasting:
In the northern hemisphere, the Hunter’s Moon appears in October or November, usually in October. Traditionally, it was a feast day in parts of western Europe and among some Native American tribes, called simply the Feast of the Hunter’s Moon, though the celebration had largely died out by the 18th century. There is a large historical reenactment by that name in Lafayette, Indiana during the early part of October 2010
Variation in time of moonrise:
In general, the moon rises about 50 minutes later each day, as it moves in orbit around Earth. All full moons rise around the time of sunset. The Harvest Moon (full moon closest to the Autumnal Equinox) and Hunter’s Moon are special because — as seen from the northern hemisphere — the time of moonrise on successive evenings is shorter than usual. The moon rises approximately 30 minutes later, from one night to the next, as seen from about 40 degrees N. latitude, for several evenings around the full Hunter’s or Harvest Moons.
Thus there is no long period of darkness between sunset and moonrise, around the time of these full moons. In times past, this feature of these autumn moons was said to help hunters tracking their prey (or, in the case of the Harvest Moon, farmers working in the fields). They could continue tracking their prey (or bringing in their crops) by moonlight even when the sun had gone down. Hence the name Hunter’s Moon.
The reason for the shorter-than-usual rising time between successive moon rises around the time of the Harvest and Hunter’s Moon is that the orbit of the Moon makes a narrow angle with respect to the horizon in the evening in autumn, leading the Moon to higher positions in the sky each successive day.
Brightness and distance:
The Hunter’s Moon is not brighter, smaller or yellower than during other times of the year, but all full moons have their own special characteristics, based primarily on the whereabouts of the ecliptic in the sky at the time of year that they are visible.
The full moons of September, October and November, as seen from the northern hemisphere — which correspond to the full moons of March, April and May as seen from the southern hemisphere — are well known in the folklore of the sky.
Since the Moon’s sidereal period differs from its synodic period, the perigee of the Moon (the point where it is closest to the Earth) does not stay in sync with the phases of the Moon. Thus the Hunter’s Moon does not correspond to any special timing of the Moon’s distance from the Earth. This is why the Hunter’s Moon is not, in general, brighter than any other regular full moon.
October’s full moon is often referred to as the Blood Moon, or Sanguine Moon. The Blood Moon takes its name not from blood sacrifices, but from the old custom of killing and salting down livestock before the Winter months made it impossible to feed them. Only the choicest stock was kept through the cold season.
The leaves are falling from trees, the deer are fattened, and it’s time to begin storing up meat for the long winter ahead. Because the fields were traditionally reaped in late September or early October, hunters could easily see fox and other animals that come out to glean from the fallen grains.
Coming right before Samhain, it’s a time when the nights are crisp and clear, and you can sense a change in the energy around you.
- Colors: Dark blue, black, purples, Deep Blue Green
- Element: Air
- Scents: strawberry, apple blossom, and cherry
- Gemstones: Obsidian, amethyst, tourmaline, opal, beryl, turquoise
- Herbs: Apple blossom, pennyroyal, mint family, catnip, Sweet Annie, thyme, catnip, uva ursi, angelica, burdock
- Flowers: Calendula, marigold, cosmos
- Trees: Apples, yew, cypress, acacia
- Birds: Heron, crow, and robin
- Animals: Stag, jackal, elephant, ram, scorpion
- Nature Spirits: Frost and plant faeries
- Gods: Herne, Apollo, Cernunnos, Mercury, Ishtar, Astarte, Demeter, Kore, Lakshmi, The Horned God, Belili, Hathor
- Powers/Advice: A time to work on inner cleansing, letting go karma, reincarnation, justice and balance.
This is the time when the veil between our world and the spirit world are at its thinnest. Use this time for spiritual growth — if there’s a deceased ancestor you wish to contact, this is a great month to do it. Hold a séance, work on your divination, and pay attention to messages you get in your dreams.
Probably because of the threat of winter looming close, the Blood Moon is generally accorded with special honor, historically serving as an important feast day in both Western Europe and among many Native American tribes.
The Blood moon focuses around connecting with animals, and our animal totems and guides. Those who practice looking at the degrees of the lunar cycle may realize that this is the last time the moon will be at a later degree. This conjunction will allow many to look at life differently every time the new moon approaches and allowing us to look at past and the future at the same time.
This moon also forces us to look at love completely differently and ask the questions:
- What is love?
- Is the love you have unconditional?
That love does not have to be just in the areas of relationship but also our interaction with people, it can even be love of work and things you have acquired.
Additionally it means to be able to let it go of someone or something no matter how much you love it because it needs to be set free. The past years have reminded us that changes need to happen that this kind of life is no longer tolerant and peaceful. We will be reminded once again we can no longer walk in other people’s shadows.
Because this moon focuses around our animal nature, some of us may become very aggressive in what we say or do. It may cause many people to act out. This type of moon has been known for violence, suicides and domestic disputes over things that may or not exist – another reason it is known as the blood moon.
A Ritual For The Blood Moon
Here’s a nice little ritual to do for the Blood Moon.
You will need:
- A special glass or chalice – something pretty
- Rose water – or spring water
- White cotton cloth
- Red wine
- Ripe pomegranate
- Silver spoon
For this ritual it will be nice to dress up a little. Wear white or silver, and if you have it, silver jewelry with carnelian, or moonstone. Use a special glass or chalice.
Rinse the chalice with rose water and dry it with a clean white cotton cloth. Pour the cup of red wine into the chalice, slice the pomegranate in half and squeeze the juice into the wine. Add a teaspoon of honey, and stir with the silver spoon.
Go outside. If you are doing this with friends, form a circle. Lift the chalice in the direction of the moon and say a few words of praise, thanks, appreciation, whatever feels appropriate and right. Then take a sip of the wine and pass the chalice clockwise around the circle (if there is one). Each person “toasts” the Blood Moon and drinks.
When the circle is complete, pour the rest of the wine on the ground as a “libation” or offering to the earth.
Collected from various sources including: PaganWiccan.About.Com
In the ancient Roman calendar, October was the name of the eighth month of the year. Its name comes from octo, the Latin word for “eight.” When the Romans converted to a 12-month calendar, they tried to rename this month after various Roman emperors, but the name October stuck.
In Old England, the month was called Winmonath, which means “wine month,” for this was the time of year when wine was made. The English also called it Winterfylleth, or “Winter Full Moon.” They considered this full Moon to be the start of winter.
A warm October is said to be a sign of a cold February. If leaves wither on the trees and fail to fall to the ground in autumn, it indicates a frosty winter with a great deal of snow, alternatively:
“If October brings heavy frosts and winds,
then will January and February be mild.”
The October Moons
The full moon closest to the Autumn Equinox is called the Harvest Moon, and as such, it sometimes falls in October. This moon is also called the Blood Moon, Hunters Moon, Shedding Moon or the Falling Leaf Moon. Coming right before Samhain, it’s a time when the nights are crisp and clear, and you can sense a change in the energy around you.
The Blood Moon takes its name not from blood sacrifices, but from the old custom of killing and salting down livestock before the Winter months made it impossible to feed them. Only the choicest stock was kept through the cold season.
Today we still subconsciously begin to make preparations for the coming Winter during this time. We check the antifreeze and tires for the car, gather up garden hoses, and make plans to winterize any drafty spots around doors and windows in the house. Some of us do and an ambitious fall cleaning.
Throughout this month, festivals for the dead increase with the waning light, and late harvest festivals continue. The latter often include propitiation to ensure that the Goddess’s abundance will keep people whole through harsh or barren times.
Magical efforts accentuated by October’s characteristics include clearing away old, unnecessary things or habits so that our mind, body, and spirit are prepared for winter. Any spells for memory, especially commemorating loved ones, are apt. Beyond this, metaphysical efforts for health, luck, and debt paying seem common, ensuring that winter, the season of rest and death, will come and go with the least negative effect.
The Greek festival of Thesmophoria came every year in honor of Demeter and was confined to women only. This was a three-day rememberance of Kores return to the Underworld. At this festival the initiates shared a sacred barley drink and cakes. One feature of the Thesmophoria was a deterrent to offenders against the sacred laws against women. Priestesses read a list of the offenders before the doors of the goddesses’ temples, especially the temples of Demeter and Artemis. It was believed that anyone so cursed would die before the year ended.
The first day of the Thesmophoria was the kathodos, a ritual where purified priestesses took sacrificed piglets deep into the chasm where the sacred inner shrine of Demeter was. They left the piglets there and retrieved the remains of the one from the previous year. The second day was Nesteia, during which the remains of the retrieved piglets were displayed on the altar. Courts were closed in honor of Demeter as law-giver. On the third day, the retieved piglets were sown into the plowed Earth as a symbol of Demeter’s fertility aspect.
The Greeks also honored the god Hephaestus with an annual festival called Chalkeia.
In Tibet, the Buddhist Lent occured along with the Descent from Heaven festival which celebrated the end of the rainy season.
The Durga Puja in India honors the goddess Durga for four days beginning on the New Moon. It is a time of family reuntions, settling quarrels, and honoring the parents. In northern India this fesival is known as Dasahara. Durga is considered a matriarchal figure and is very popular with the people. She is shown with many arms and in bright colors.
The Lakshmi Puja, or Diwalii, is a fest of lights in honor of the goddess Lakshmi. It occurs right after the Durga Puja. During this Festival of Lights, lamos are everywhere, good things to eat are produced, and Hindu wives dance for their husbands. Lakshmi, wife of Vishnu, is considered the goddess of wealth and prosperity.
In the Pacific Ocean, the ancient Hawaiians celebrated a four-month long festival called Makahiki, beginning of the first Full Moon of this month. The god Lono had a special celebration of five days during this time, filled with games, pageantry, the hula, surfing, feasting, and tax collecting.
September 29th is a medieval holiday which the Church Christianized under the label of “Michaelmas,” a feast in honor of the Archangel Michael. It is thought that the Roman Catholic Church at some point considered assigning the quarter dates to the four Archangels, since they had assigned the cross quarters to the four gospel-writers.
The feast day of St. Michael, the archangel and overcomer of the Devil, is a Christian celebration. Its main importance in people’s lives was that of a seasonal signpost in the year. In the British Isles, crops were harvested and the surplus sold by late September, so this became the time when farmers would pay their yearly rents to landowners.
Everyone ate goose at Michaelmas to bring prosperity, and many farmers included “a goose fit for the lord’s dinner” with their rent payments. Great market fairs occurred just before the feast day, and the large crowds these attracted made it convenient to hold elections at this time. Michaelmas is also a “Quarter Day.”
The ancient Celtic people divided the year into four major sections, or quarters, and then divided each of these in half to make an eight-part year that reflected the natural progression of the seasons. Foods traditional for Michaelmas include new wine; goose; cakes of oats, barley, and rye; and carrots. Some groups in the United States, such as the Pennsylvania Dutch, have kept Michaelmas, or “Harvest Home,” traditions alive.
During the Middle Ages, Michaelmas was celebrated as a Holy Day of Obligation, but this tradition was abolished in the 18th century. Lutheran Christians consider it a principal feast of Christ.
It was also one of the Welsh and Irish quarter days when accounts had to be settled. On manors, it was the day when a reeve was elected from the peasants. Traditional meal for the day includes goose (a “stubble-goose”, i.e. one prepared around harvest time) and a special cake called a St Michael’s bannock.
A Note About Dates:
There is evidence that Michaelmas was once celebrated later in the year, on the 10th or 11th of October, this is now referred to as ‘Old Michaelmas Day’. There may also have been a time when both dates for Michaelmas were acknowledged.
I like the legend of teenage girls collecting crab apples at the beginning of September, and arranging them in the initials of boys they fancied. If they could still discern the initials on Old Michaelmas Day, then then true love and romance would follow. The legend conjures two unrelated thoughts in my mind, firstly, would other girls mischievously re-arrange the apples to form the initials of a different boy. Secondly, what is the modern equivalent of this courtship ritual?
It’s interesting that certain customs transfer from one season to another. For example, two people snapping the the Michaelmas goose’s wishbone and thinking of a secret desire. Also, the concept of a Michaelmas Pie with ring, according to this legend, the lucky recipient will be engaged by Christmas and marry by Easter. Variations on these themes occur at Christmas and possibly at Thanksgiving.
Michaelmas Customs and Lore
According to an old legend, blackberries should not be picked after this date.
This is because, so folklore goes, Satan was banished from Heaven on this day, fell into a blackberry bush and cursed the brambles as he fell into them. In Yorkshire, it is said that the devil had spat on them. This old legend is well known in all parts of the United Kingdom, even as far north as the Orkney Islands. In Cornwall, a similar legend prevails, however, the saying goes that the devil urinated on them.
This is one Michaelmas custom that survives to this day, although sometimes it is said that you should not eat blackberries after the 29th of September. There is a very good reason for this custom, namely that by this time of year blackberries are tasteless and watery.
Other fruits, particularly nuts and rose-hips also have customs associated with Michaelmas. For example, ‘Hipping Day’ in Yorkshire, or Michaelmas pie in Ireland (Made of apples).
- Mop Fairs (Hiring Time):
Michaelmas was traditionally time when laborers and servants were hired. As the name suggests, maids would carry mops, but other trades carried the tools of their trades.
Thus the squires or the lord’s of the manor could tell what skills the prospective employees had, for example, a Shepherds his crook, and a gardener a rake.
Michaelmas marks the end of the fishing season.
The start of the curfew for winter night nights. The local church bell sounded each night from Michaelmas until lent. Curfew is derived from the French phrase ‘courve feu’, which means to cover, or to dowse a fire.
When tenants came to pay their quarter’s rent, they bring a fowl at Midsummer, a dish of fish in Lent, a capon at Christmas, and on Michaelmas Day, a goose.
This is traditionally a good time to plant trees as evidenced by this old saying, “A Tree planted at Michaelmas, will surely not go amiss.”
More Michaelmas Lore:
At Michaelmas time, or a little before,
Half an apple goes to the core;
At Christmas time, or a little after,
A crab in the hedge, and thanks to the rafter.
- If you eat goose on Michaelmas Day, you will not be short of money all year round.
- A Michaelmas rot comes ne’er in the pot.
- If St Michael brings many acorns, Christmas will cover the fields with snow.
- Michaelmas chickens and parsons’ daughters never come to good.
- Three things that never come to any good: Christmas pigs, Michaelmas fowls, and parsons’ daughters.
- So many days the moon is old on St Michael’s day, so many floods after.
- Harvest comes as long before Michaelmas as dog roses bloom before Midsummer.
- On Michaelmas Day the devil puts his foot on the blackberries.
- St Michael’s rain does not stay long in the sky.
- If it does not rain on St Michael’s and Gallus [Oct 16], a dry spring is indicated for the next year.
Collected from a variety of sources